Barely five days to its deadline for commencement of a nationwide strike, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has begun mobilisation of all its affiliate unions to ensure effective implementation of the industrial action.
The NLC and its partner, the Trade Union Congress (TUC), are protesting the resistance of the federal, state and local governments to the adoption of N30,000 as the new minimum wage in the country and had warned that unless the figure was accepted by the government, they would order an indefinite nationwide strike from Monday.
Consequently, the NLC at the end of its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held in Abuja wednesday directed all affiliate unions, state councils, civil society allies and the informal sector to commence immediate mobilisation of their members.
A communiqué signed by the NLC President, Mr. Ayuba Wabba, and General Secretary, Mr. Peter Essom, said there would be joint organ meetings of the Central Working Committees (CWCs) of all the labour centres on November 2, in final preparations for a full engagement with the federal government on the national minimum wage.
The NEC meeting resolved to commence an indefinite national strike and industrial actions from November 6, except government accepts and commences the process of perfecting the payment of N30, 000 as the negotiated and compromise new national minimum wage before that date.
According to the communique, “NEC-in-session directed all affiliate unions, state councils, civil society allies, the informal sector and other friends of workers and lovers of democracy to commence immediate mobilization of their members;
“The NEC advised Nigerians to start stocking food and other necessities of life as workers will ensure a total shutdown of the country”.
Similarly the NLC condemned the decision of the federal government to clamp down on labour via what it described as “selective and erroneous invocation of the ‘no work, no pay” clause in the Trade Disputes Act,” noting that the right to strike is both a human and trade union right and cannot be abridged.
It urged workers to disregard government’s directive on “no work, no pay” because workers were already being impoverished and being owed arrears of salaries.
Threatens to Report FG to ILO
Also as part of the resolutions in a communiqué, the labour bodies threatened to report the federal government to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) over its White Paper on “No work, no pay’’ policy. They described the White Paper as an assault to Organised Labour.
The communique stated that the NLC NEC had resolved not to be bound by the latest White Paper by federal government against labour, describing it as an illegality and a throwback to the dark days of fascism which organised labour successfully confronted.
Wabba said that the NEC condemned the government for its design/plan to clamp down on labour via selective and erroneous invocation of the ‘no work, no pay” clause in the Trade Disputes Act.
“The right to strike is both a human and trade union right and cannot be abridged as it is what distinguishes a worker from a slave.
“There is nothing new about this clause as it has been in our statutes for over 40 years.
“The NEC also demanded that the government uphold the principles of the rule of law, fairness, equity and justice by invoking “no pay, no work.
“The NEC, accordingly, resolved that the threat of “no work, no pay” will not deter it from embarking on strike, when necessary, as it has always complied with legal requirements precedent and will always comply with those requirements.”
He said the NEC also resolved to advise the federal government to shelve its white paper or risk being reported to the ILO.
According to him, the NEC urged Nigerian workers to disregard government’s directive on “no work, no pay” as they were already being impoverished and owed arrears of salaries.
He said the NEC also observed that government’s design to influence the tenure of union executives and membership of unions’ negotiating teams, constituted a direct interference in the internal affairs of the unions.
He said the NEC noted that this was in direct contravention of the Articles 3, 4 and 8 of ILO Convention 87, which Nigeria signed since 1960.
He said the NEC also “debunked, rejected and condemned”claims by the Minister of Labour and Employment in the media that negotiations were still ongoing on the issue of a New National Minimum Wage which implementation was already long overdue.
The NLC president added that the NEC also resolved to organise a national day of mobilisation and sensitisation rallies for all workers.”
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